AS URBANIZED and sophisticated as we Canadians are today, we tend to forget that most of us are just a generation or two away from the "sticks." So much of modem life that we now take for granted would have been virtually unimaginable to our recent ancestors. It's a delight to recapture some of that sense of wonder through the eyes of a boy growing up on the Prairie just before and during the Depression.
0 Little Town
(University of Manitoba, 264 pages, $17.50 paper) presents Harlo Jones's loving memories of a much simpler time, a much simpler life. If loving memories and the Depression don't seem to go together, it's because of our perspective, Jones explains:
Because we were children, the many worries that beset our parents were only a semi-perceived background to our young lives .... It was only later, when we were able to understand what our parents went through, that we began to understand the Great Depression .... We had suffered without really knowing it and had survived without recognizing the danger.
This memoir takes us through a beautifully detailed account of a way of life that has practically disappeared: the one-room schoolhouse; the provincial exams; the threshing season; the simple, subtle social games of a tiny community.
0 Little Town will
spark memories in those who lived through that time, and educate those who didn't. Harlo Jones started writing his memoirs in response to the repeated questions of children who were interested in knowing more about "the olden days." We have them, and him, to thank for this eloquent, enlightening, compassionate answer.